Styling Dianna Lunt
Words Nick Smith
So Ana, you grew up in Belgrade, Serbia. What was your childhood like?
Yes, I was born and grew up there. My childhood was both lovely and bitter. I guess so much of it was not very normal to live through, a war and all the things that war brings. But I like to look at it as a useful experience, a lesson. There were times when there was a big lack of a lot of basic things but my family gave me so much love that, somehow, looking back, even those times were beautiful in their own way. We all have our little personal dramas and issues while growing up but this was something else, a collective drama that you are helpless about and absolutely caught in the middle of. On the other hand I have so many beautiful memories. My favourite was spending months at the beach in Montenegro where my father built us a little cottage. Months of being in the water and underwater, nothing compares to that.
How did it mold you creatively? Do you feel the situation there affected the way you work today?
I can see that some of the ways I approach things both in my work and life in general have to do with growing up under those circumstances. I think those kind of troubles make some sort of a filter that makes a picture a bit clearer. When you are concerned about basics there is less time and space to make up problems. Also, when you have so little, you have to be be creative to find a way to have some joy with it. I still always work in a way that ‘recycles’ things, I like to use leftovers and make budget things. That problem solving aspect engages me the most. I like it more than having total freedom and endless budgets. I love having to figure things out in difficult situations.
What did you envision for yourself when you were younger?
At very early age I was obsessed with animals and was sure I would be a veterinarian. Then I was into the idea of being a taxi driver as to me driving seemed like playing a video game. But I constantly had a pen in my hand, drawing. It was clear to everyone but me that I would end up doing something artistic. My parents gave me absolute freedom. They never pushed me to do anything, they never even pushed me to advance in the fields I was naturally curious about. Sometimes I wonder if it was that huge freedom they gave me made me so responsible. I didn’t want to take advantage of the trust I was given, and the freedom that comes from that trust. When the time came to pick a university I decided to attend the University of Applied Arts. Not clear exactly what I wanted to do I randomly picked Interior Architecture and Furniture Design. It sounded exotic as I’d never thought of it as a profession.
How did your career evolve while living in Serbia?
During the last year of my studies I saw a contest call for the Milan Furniture Fair Exhibition and applied with my Diploma work, a chair I named ‘hug’. My work was accepted and I was given a space to hold my first International Furniture Fair Show. The following year I applied again but with a few more works and they were all chosen so I had a bigger show and thats when people in the field saw my work. From then on things started rolling, the press is curious and then the internet gets involved and other people get curious. It’s a chain reaction.
What was it that eventually led you to move to New York?
I first moved to Los Angeles with no prior plans to move there. It happened very spontaneously,
and then a year and a half later I moved to NYC because my partner really wanted to move. I followed. I was also missing the city structure and walking instead of driving so there was some excitement on my end as well.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
I am really inspired by everything and nothing in particular.
Was design always the direction your life was headed? Was there a time you thought you might end up somewhere else?
I am always open to all the different activities I enjoy doing. I never commit to just one as it would make me bored and unhappy. I do love working with furniture but I also take photographs, draw, paint, make sculptures. I also do graphic design, art direction, embroideries and all sorts of collaborations. I love when someone asks me to do something I have no experience with and I have to approach it as something totally new and figure out how to make it work.
What drew you to wanting to create furniture and handmade objects?
I like the practical aspect of it, the fact that it’s made to be used and that it requires construction. There is a little engineer in me, it’s something I got from my father. My hands have always been crafty and happy when they cut and bend and fold and make. I also love to play with colours and variations of colour.
You and your partner (Devendra Banhart) are very creative and artistic. Do you inspire each other and noticeably influence each others work?
Yes. He inspires me a lot. We draw together next to each other, or we do collaborative drawings where someone starts and the other finishes. We definitely influence each other. He draws shapes that look like my lamps and I draw bowls that look like the bowls he draws not knowing they are bowls.
You’re based in NYC. What makes this the perfect place for you at this point in time? What aspects of the city have you fallen in love with?
I ask myself that all the time and I am still not sure if I have the answer. Maybe its not even the perfect place for this moment, but who knows what is perfect? You simply make choices and then you see how you feel about them and that leads to another choice. You stick to it or change if it doesn’t feel right. I have been in New York for just over a year so it’s still too early to tell.
I both like and dislike NYC. I wish spaces were bigger and there were less people and noises, but I also enjoy the dynamics of the life here. It’s still new, I have to give it some more time. I have a beautiful space for a studio here, which is so rare in New York and I feel very attached to it. Maybe that makes New York feel right for the moment.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I’m always kind of working. I make my own work hours so there’s no division. I like to visit new places, that makes me zone out the most. I don’t have any hobbies that are not attached to my work. I don’t do sports or yoga or anything. When I’m not working I cuddle, eat and watch documentaries.
What have you been working on lately?
I’m working on a few new furniture pieces and I have been drawing a lot lately too. I’m also working on a book of photographs and designing a book for another artist. I just did a little project with a fashion brand doing some embroidery and soon I’m off to Italy to make some sculptures. I am really excited about it. It’s a new technique than I’m just starting to develop.
How important is creative freedom for you?
It is important but I have enough freedom in my self initiated projects that I don’t mind having limits and rules when I do commissioned work. I actually love to have limited freedom and find my way to happily operate within that. That’s why I enjoy collaborations so much, I love to change my ways and meet someone halfway. I find it so interesting.
What makes you truly happy?
Having Kinsa in my arms. Kinsa is a dog, or lets say a soul trapped in an Ewok’s body.
Where do you see yourself in 4 years?
Sitting with my man, with one or two babies on my lap. Creamed spinach and sunny side up eggs on the plate. Feeding them and myself.
Check out Ana’s work here